William KENTRIDGETHE MARGUERITE STEPHENS TAPESTRY STUDIO, Streets of the city Enlarge 1 /1

William KENTRIDGE

South Africa born 1955

THE MARGUERITE STEPHENS TAPESTRY STUDIO

commenced 1965

weaver (organisation)

Streets of the city 2009 Place made: Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
Materials & Technique: textiles, tapestry: wool mohair weft, polyester warp and slit edging Edition: 5/6

Primary Insc: in felt-tip marker om canvas panel stitched to lower left verso: Title: Streets of the City (Nose Series)/Artist: William Kentridge/Woven in the Stephens Tapestry Studio/Weavers: June Yabe, Treasure Zulu, Futhi Zulu, Daphne Lukde, Mumsy Mudau, Blessing Mahngana, Tracy Neube/Directed by Marguerite Stephens/PO Box 1360 Fourways, South Africa/Edition 5/6/Date 2012, W.Kentridge [signature]
Dimensions: 331.0 h x 344.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2012
Accession No: NGA 2012.1796

As a South African born in 1955, William Kentridge lived through apartheid, and his work often explores the tensions and conflicts that shape the communities and lives of people in post–colonial cultures. He employs stereoscopic devices to create optical illusions and projections, using drawing, film, animation, sculpture and performance to explore ways in which we construct the world by looking. These devices and methodologies come together in his work in tapestry, a medium in which imagery is traditionally transferred from one form and scale to another and physically interpreted and produced by others.

He made Streets of the city and other tapestries in response to an invitation to create an exhibition of works with a particular reference to Naples, itself a cultural melting pot beset with conflict and crime. The series of tapestries temporarily replaced the historic tapestries of Naples' Museo di Capodimonte. In them, an equestrian epic unfolds in which a riderless, disjointed and marionette-like horse, inspired by Don Quixote's Rocinante, flees across an ancient map of the city.

Kentridge draws connections between the arts of cartography and weaving, both processes built point-by-point along defined axes. He joins choreography and topography in a type of literal street theatre, where allusions to the theatre curtain, propaganda and the disjointed shadows of the homeless and dispossessed as 'performers' are reconnected through the courtly, stable and civilising process of weaving.

His seemingly chaotic collage of the horse, derived from torn fragments of Soviet propaganda and overlaid on map sections, is brought to order through the tapestry process. Weaver Marguerite Stephens, who has worked with Kentridge since 2001, scaled up the work from Kentridge's drawing. With her team of weavers, Stephens used a high-warp loom to weave the image in the Gobelin technique, using mohair wool sourced, spun, prepared and dyed in a cottage workshop in Swaziland.

Robert Bell AM Senior Curator, Decorative Arts and Design


in artonview, issue 74, Winter 2013

As a South African born in 1955, William Kentridge lived through apartheid, and his work often explores the tensions and conflicts that shape the communities and lives of people in post-colonial cultures. He employs stereoscopic devices to create optical illusions and projections, using drawing, film, animation, sculpture and performance to explore ways in which we construct the world by looking. These devices and methodologies come together in his work in tapestry, a medium in which imagery is traditionally transferred from one form and scale to another and physically interpreted and produced by others.

He made Streets of the city and other tapestries in response to an invitation to create an exhibition of works with a particular reference to Naples, itself a cultural melting pot beset with conflict and crime. In them, an equestrian epic unfolds in which a riderless, disjointed and marionette-like horse, inspired by Don Quixote’s Rocinante, flees across an ancient map of the city.

Kentridge draws connections between the arts of cartography and weaving, both processes built point-by-point along defined axes. His seemingly chaotic collage of the horse, derived from torn fragments of Soviet propaganda and overlaid on map sections, is brought to order through the tapestry process. Weaver Marguerite Stephens has worked with Kentridge since 2001.


Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014